Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Celebrating A Year!

New Year's Eve erotic romanceThis time last year, we put out the first four Den of Sin stories (six, if we count the free reads). We picked a New Year’s Eve theme because we liked the idea of fresh starts, and every new season feels like one. Even though The Beaudelaire doesn’t change, there are always new guests to meet and new stories to tell. And yes, we’ve got more planned for 2015. If you’ve read Three Strikes, you might be able to guess who we’ll be seeing more of in the next season.
Or maybe not. ;) We do like to maintain a little mystery, and since the next batch of stories won’t be out for several months, we have to keep Season 4’s theme under wraps for a little while longer.
If you’re catching up on the series, now is a great time to collect the Season 1 stories you might have missed:

NewYearsEve1Other end-of-year news:
  • Three Strikes is now available as a stand-alone e-book at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, All Romance eBooks, and Google Play. It’ll be available for iBooks sometime next week. It is still available in the limited-time Let it Snow anthology for the time being, as well. (The anthology has six stories = a better deal.)
  • The novelette As Sweet will fall off the free reads list on or shortly after 12/31. Download it now for free. It’ll be available for 99¢ after that if you miss the bargain.
  • Did you know the Den has a new release newsletter? It only goes out when we’ve added a story to the series. Subscribe hereand never miss a new installment.The second best way to find out what’s going on at the Den is to fan our Facebook page. We try to keep it PG-13, but that’s tough given the nature of the series. We do run flash contests and giveaways on the page every so often, so check in and see what’s up for grabs.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

UNDER HIS KILT SALE!

Well, kind of. UNDER HIS KILT is in the latest Gemstone Collection from Summer Daniels. It's $0.99.  So if you were waiting to pick it up on sale now is the time.
Yup. A boxed set of good and dirty books. 
Kindle US - http://amzn.to/1sJY0xy

But wait that's not all. RAFFLECOPTER! Enter to win some pretty sweet prizes from all the authors in this boxed set.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Unbidden Desires: Out Now!

My newest addition to the Den of Sin series it out! It's short and spicy and only $1.49. Check it out.

When your greatest enemy becomes your best lover…

Zora Riley’s intentions were to discover the scandalous story her rival dug up on The Beaudelaire. If the whispers were true then a five-star hotel in New Orleans transformed into a Den of Sin. Just the name of one famous attendant could make the rest of her career, and if Alastair planned to report the story first then she had to be the one to scoop him. It was only fair since he’d been taking her stories for the last six months. But when a heated argument with Alastair turns into a toe-curling interlude, she’s shaken to her core

Alastair Halliday left Great Britain to make a name for himself in America, but he didn’t come to the Den for a story. Working for years in a dog-eat-dog environment, with insane hours, has left him needing something a little less refined and ambitious…something that will feed his kink. The Den’s winter masquerade ball will allow him to be anyone, someone whose work won’t get in the way of something simple and primal. That is until he kisses Zora, his most tempting rival.


When the weekend is over and the masks come off, will they go back to being enemies or will they stay lovers?
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Smashwords
ARe

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Free and Coming Soon

Hey y'all! It's been ages since I chattered on here. I've been on a little writing siesta, but that doesn't mean grass has been growing under my feet. I have a new very short read coming out in the Den of Sin this month.

When your greatest enemy becomes your best lover…
 Zora Riley’s intentions were to discover the scandalous story her rival dug up on The Beaudelaire. If the whispers were true then a five-star hotel in New Orleans transformed into a Den of Sin. Just the name of one famous attendant could make the rest of her career, and if Alastair planned to report the story first then she had to be the one to scoop him. It was only fair since he’d been taking her stories for the last six months. But when a heated argument with Alastair turns into a toe-curling interlude, she’s shaken to her core.
Alastair Halliday left Great Britain to make a name for himself in America, but he didn’t come to the Den for a story. Working for years in a dog-eat-dog environment, with insane hours, has left him needing something a little less refined and ambitious…something that will feed his kink. The Den’s winter masquerade ball will allow him to be anyone, someone whose work won’t get in the way of something simple and primal. That is until he kisses Zora, his most tempting rival.
When the weekend is over and the masks come off, will they go back to being enemies or will they stay lovers?
*This title will be out on the 18th.
But while you wait you can pick up most of the Den of Sin titles half off, if not more. Like Forbidden Rendezvous. Which is currently free at these retailers:

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Flirting With A New Release

A new release, baby! Yes. I know it's from another name but I still smell as snarky. Here are the deets.

All was right in Peyton Tanner's world until trouble walked into her bar, the Grog Monster, and his name was Tate Briggs.

For the past ten years Peyton's managed to live her life scandal-free. A feat considering her father's the mayor, in a very small town. Staying under the radar is a priority when her every action is reported like the hottest news. And Peyton knows how fast that grapevine can turn on her. So no matter how delicious and forbidden Tate can be, she's not willing to turn her world into gossip central, again, for lust.

Tate Briggs learned a long time ago to want what you want and not apologize for it, and he wants Peyton. He can understand her trepidation. Small towns are only kind to their local sweethearts when she's agreeable and perfect, but at some point Peyton's got to live for herself. But his patience is tested when she insists their affair must remain a secret. It goes against everything he believes in.

When their relationship becomes more than a sexual affair, Peyton will have to decide between her beloved small town or the man she loves.


Promotional price: $1.85
Coupon Code: VJ54M
Expires: September 23, 2014

Sunday, September 07, 2014

A Decade of Snark

No one is more shocked than I that I've lasted this long. And to be honest I didn't do this on my own. So I just want to say thank you. To every critique partner, beta reader, writing forum and every author I've met. You have made this an incredible journey I could not have fathomed when I started at 19.

But most of you are here for a giveaway. Here's a purty graphic to see some of the prizes up for grabs and below it will be the rafflecopter link.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, September 05, 2014

It's A Contest, Baby

I figured 10 years of writing required some kind of celebration. So I wrangled a few people I know and asked them donate to this cause. So what does that mean? A MASSIVE GIVEAWAY. Starting September 7th I'll have a rafflecopter up so you can enter to win. Go ahead and take a gander at some of the authors and prizes.


Melissa Blue




































And after this list...There's still more. So check back. There will be pretty graphics and a Rafflecopter and a giveaway, giveaway, giveaway. *sorry couldn't help myself.*

Friday, June 20, 2014

Debauching The Virgin

My new book is live! It's part of the Den of Sin series.

BLURB:
The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem.


Amelia Washington is a successful matchmaker to the rich with two failed engagements under her belt.


Amelia hasn’t had a man in her bed since she called a personal moratorium on relationships, and she’s been itching for a mattress tussle. She accepts an offer from The Den's kink orchestrator to pick a sexual companion for a week. Her temporary lover has a quick wit, lust for adventure and pure sexual magnetism. He’s perfect for a short, hot affair that leaves emotions out of the equation. He’s also willing to let her teach him how to please a woman. She’s bossy, high-handed and a bit uptight. How can she refuse?


Dwayne Blackstone is twenty-seven-year-old virgin.


He’s spent most of his adult life isolated, flying search and rescue missions as a bush pilot. When he has a brush with death, he’s determined to finally live his life to the fullest. The first step is definitely to lose his virginity. He wants Amelia to show him the art of seduction. She knows what she wants, and he’s a quick study. It’s not long before the student surpasses the teacher, and the simple but intimate experience turns into more than learning what makes Amelia moan.


The week they agreed to be lovers simply isn’t enough.

BUY LINKS:


Amazon US
Amazon UK
Barnes and Noble
Smashwords
Coupon Code for Smashwords:
Promotional price: $1.50
Coupon Code: HK35E
Expires: June 27, 2014

And if you haven't already picked up Forbidden Rendezvous, you can get it for $0.99. 


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Words Are Meaningless Until You Give Them Context

I like to be upfront when I start off a post. That way you can decide now if you're staying or going. So, this post is about dialogue. I will try to be short and I hope I leave you with something you can think on.

Anyway...
“I'm tired.”
This is pretty straightforward. Whoever this is would like to go to sleep or take a serious power nap.
She shifted on the bed and could see her boyfriend's face transforming. Within the next five seconds the face she'd fallen in love with, the one that could still make her heart skip would morph into something unrecognizable. The contempt on that face always left greasy knots in her stomach. She sagged into her pillow. “I'm tired.”
The context has changed the meaning of the dialogue. Yeah, she still might want to roll over and just sleep, but it's also to avoid what's going on. You can guess it's also about the state of her relationship with her boyfriend.

Good dialogue can stand on its own but great dialogue is about the context. So don't be afraid to use the context mercilessly.
“Hey.”
“Hello.”
“What's up, sweet cheeks?”
“Oh, hi, ruin-er of all good moods.”
The context is a greeting, but each one of these can tell you a lot about the character. It can tell you how they feel about the person they are talking to.
“Hey,” Tara said to her old friend.
“Hello,” Tara squeaked.
“What's up, sweet cheeks?” Tara bent down and placed kisses on her niece's full, round face.
Amir stepped into her office and all the air in her lungs whooshed out. She didn't care it was irrational for hating the way he made her feel a giggle away from embarrassing herself. She stood from her chair and smiled. “Oh, hi, ruin-er of all good moods.”
Also, just a big general tip:

I really don't prescribe to the advice to write how people talk. It's problematic because:

People are incoherent when they talk. “Oh, um, er, you know the whachamacalit? You know what I'm saying.” (This is usually when you're talking to your friends and you know exactly what a whachamalit is.

Or, so verbose you can't parse the meaning.

Or, they are communicating some information, which is usually has some importance to the people who are talking to each other. But totally mundane to anyone else.

Dialogue is not talking. Dialogue is information you're imparting to a third party who isn't a part of the conversation.

So, make your dialogue interesting, entertaining, insightful and TRUE to your CHARACTER. And read it out loud for the rhythm, not to see if it sounds like “real people talking.”

Why?

“Got a sec?”
“Do you have a moment?”
“Dear sir, I need to impart some important information.”

Everyone would say the last is how no one in real life talks. Until you put that dialogue in the mouth of someone stuffy and who is probably someone's butler.

So...that's all I've got. Yes, a real post. But look out on Friday. There'll be promotion.

Saturday, June 07, 2014

O For Two: A New Season Of Sin Begins

I know some of y'all have been waiting for the second season of The Den of Sin and it's here. Holley Trent is first up with O For Two. Be sure to pick up all the titles the first week they are out to get the sale price of $1.49.

***

Olivia Patterson is a rolling stone…or maybe a flying one. As a flight attendant, she lives in the air. She’s never put down roots, and liked it that way…until now. When she touches down on the ground, she wants there to be someone waiting for her. For now, she’d settle for a bit of no-strings-attached company. She accepts an invitation to the Hotel Beaudelaire’s exclusive Den of Sin expecting to have her kinks indulged, not her heart battered.


Clint Morstad and Ken Brook have been in a committed, monogamous relationship for eleven years and are a mostly perfect match. However, after a decade together both admit their relationship needs a feminine influence. They visit the Den to search for their perfect woman, and believe easy-going Olivia could be their ideal match.


As much as she adores them, Olivia doesn’t want to get attached to men she can’t keep. When she slips away before they can invite her home, Clint and Ken left with a dilemma. Should they give chase to the only woman they’ve wanted to share, or let her fly?



(An mmf erotic romance - contains scenes of m/m intercourse.)

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
All Romance Ebooks
Smashwords
***
The line up:
Illicit Passions by Ambrielle Kirk (June 13th, 2014)
Debauching The Virgin by Mel Blue (June 20th, 2014)
You can read blurbs and excerpts by clicking on the links. In short, just visit The Den of Sin website.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Genre Expectations: I Ramble About IR Romance

As you know, I don't blog often. When I say blog, I mean something other than Go Buy This Book or Giveaway, Giveaway, Giveaway! A big part of that is I started actively blogging in 2005. Damn. Almost a decade. So...I've run out of things to say. So what's inspired this post? Race. Or rather, the idea that colorblindness in IR romance is problematic.

I'm a bit conflicted myself. I don't have the right answer. I'm not a scholar or an academic so don't look for two-dollar words in this blog or a complete unpacking of all the myriad nuances. Quite frankly this just might be a ranty-ish ramble.

But let's start with this:


A quick summary of this review is that the blogger was surprised that even though the characters were aware of race and the complications, the black moment dealt with a run-of-the-mill romantic uncoupling.

Now, it's pretty obvious she's new to the IR romance scene. Because she asks the question, Yet is there no room in the genre for romances that gesture toward, or even confront, the difficulties that interracial couples might face in our purportedly post-racial society?”

Uh. Yeah. I'm pretty sure you can pick up any IR romance written in the 1990s or the early 2000s and find almost every damn book is about the difference of race between the characters. If they had made peace with it, a family member or friend had an issue. Personally, I suffered from reader fatigue with this trope. Yes, I was happy to see heroes and heroines with my skin color in books. But, for the love of God, could they break up over him being a good ol' fashioned man-jerk every once and a while?

And I think that reader fatigue is how IR romance evolved. It's why you can look at the landscape of IR romances now and not see race as the core issue. Let me emphasize that. THE CORE ISSUE. Which is a great thing in my opinion.

And where things start to get complicated. Why? I am more than my skin color. I'm proud to say I've never looked at a picture of myself and gasped, “OMG, I'm African American. Why did no one tell me?” So I think I'm pretty aware of my race.

Then there's this blog post, which is insightful and wonderful and highlights all the nuance I'm not equipped to write:

http://vacuousminx.wordpress.com/2014/03/06/love-color-and-blindness/

When good authors write minority characters, of course they want to highlight their individuality. That’s what makes a powerful fictional person. But race and ethnicity is an inescapable and foundational part of a minority group member’s psyche and lived experience. It isn’t the same lived experience for everyone. Some feel that identity every waking hour, some may go long stretches without thinking about it. But no one has the luxury of never thinking about it.”

Yup. Yup. Yup. I took a journalism course in college. They entrusted students to write articles for the newspaper. Now February rolls around and they wanted to highlight the African American Studies class. They wanted someone to volunteer to do the story.

All eyes turned to me.

Did I forget to mention I was the only chocolate drop in class? By no means was I the only minority, but I was the only African American. These people never treated me any differently, any other time. The newspaper crowd, at least in my college course, were an odd and quirky crowd. I fit right in being odd and quirky. But in that moment, right before I replied sarcastically, everyone else made it clear they knew I was black.

So to say people are truly colorblind is a bit of a misnomer.

The same can be said that race infiltrates every avenue of a minority's life. To me that's saying all my problems are because I'm black.

I'm a woman. I'm a single mother. Last year was the first time I peaked over that poverty line. Race, for me, is not a core issue of my life. So why should I have to write about it being a core issue for my characters, if it doesn't apply?

Back to Sunita:

We treat non-minority people as essentially individual and not representative; they don’t stand in for all majority group people. But minority people are different. They can be treated as conforming to type or challenging type, but type is almost always there.”

This is probably the closest answer to why IR/MC/AA romances have this unspoken expectation from outsiders, and sometimes insiders, to represent a specific race, culture, etc. in a certain way. These characters are not just characters. They are supposed to be representations for all. Caucasians don't have to carry that burden into their fiction. Their fiction can be about how the girl next door falls in love with the bad boy down the street. They can write that fiction without criticism. Or the notion they are doing their subgenre a disservice for not spotlighting an obvious real life issue or circumstance.

The problem is, what is African American culture? And that's a huge problem for those who aren't aware, because there isn't one clear and obvious culture. Just like any other race, you have many. It really is quite easier to shape a character by their upbringing. And then take a moment to consider how race shaped them.

I am vastly different from someone who was raised middle class. Even if we share the same skin color. Then you have to add in the nuance to my life in general. Just let my mother tell you about her trials and tribulations of having to go to Finishing School. Being raised by a Southern mother who wore gloves to church like a proper lady. Having an aunt who believed red nail polish was as racy as a miniskirt. And my own issues, given to me by my mother, of seeing someone wear white stockings with black shoes, or vice versa. My father's side of the family is the true melting pot of 'Merica. If I get started on being raised in church, this blog post will have no end.

And all that still doesn't touch on the relationships I've had. Taking a mental gander at them there have been issues about fidelity, honesty, my role as a “woman” and a lot of other things. My weakness for...never mind. The point is race wasn't an issue. This goes for relationships that were outside my color line. This is my experience. Not everyone's. Same goes for having moments in life where I was completely aware I was black and that was the difference and the problem. Let me emphasize that. MOMENTS.

Truth be told, I'm not a representative for my race. Lawd be a fence if I was. I see color. I'm not blind. But most times what's more important to me is if you're an asshole. That's not saying I don't see a culture's differences from my own. I usually do. I usually ask a million questions for book fodder and the fact I'm nosy. It doesn't rule my life and that is reflected in the books I write.

Yet IR romances are being called to the mat for not dealing with race? So instead of exploring everything that is love and relationships, IR authors should focus on what's historically been done to every minority ever—center on nothing more than the color of their skin.

Hmmm.

Is it something we should continue to talk about? Absolutely. But saying things like race is being swept under the rug makes me twitch. We write romance. That IR designation does not change the fact the book is a romance. Readers don't expect every book to be about women's rights as the core issue. So why put that same restriction on IR romances? It's not being colorblind. It's actually, I don't know, writing a romance where the main issue might be that the hero is just an ol' fashioned man-jerk.

So that's my two cents. I may be wrong. I may need to get schooled. I can live with that. Anyway, the next time you hear from me I'll probably try to sell you something. Enjoy this reprieve while you can.

Friday, April 18, 2014

The 14.5k Likes Giveaway: The Official Heads Up

I'm part of a massive giveaway until April 24th. The amount of authors involved is ridiculous. It's hard NOT to win a prize. So what do you have to do? 

Put a dent in this rafflecopter to win.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, March 24, 2014

It's Been A While But...Writing, So...UPDATES

Why so silent? Well I've been writing like a fiend. December rolled around and I kind of noticed I only had one book written that I planned to release in 2014. Given I planned to have at least six releases...Cue an epic panic. Thankfully when I decide to put the pedal to the metal I can be quite prolific. So far I've knocked out 3 out of the 5 planned releases. One of them being Debauching the Virgin. Another installment in the Den of Sin series.The official release date May 9th. I'll provide more details the closer the date looms.

Speaking of...Did you know we decided to put the four books into a boxed set for a limited time? Yeah. We totally did. You can pick it up for a buck right now. So don't miss out on that sale. Here's the blurbarge:
Leave your inhibitions at the door...and turn the page.

New Orleans's elegant Beaudelaire isn't just an acclaimed five-star hotel. Several times per year, the Beaudelaire transforms into a discreet den of sin, and its most important rule is guests must leave their inhibitions at the door. At the Den, lonely hearts connect and secrets are kept. Some guests go home alone wearing smiles, but others find the start of their happily-ever-afters.

Forbidden Rendezvous by Mel Blue

Seraphina orchestrates fantasies, but this year she'll create one of her own. It's against the rules for an employee to participate in the weekend-long sex-capade but she's willing to risk it for Luke. His past and connection to her boss is clouded in intrigue, but she knows what he wants, and she plans to star in one of his voyeuristic fantasies.

Ménage à Troys by Holley Trent

At the Den of Sin anything goes, so instead of two newlyweds letting down their guards to finally consummate their marriage of convenience, three people desperate to be touched forge bonds. That's all well and good for the weekend, but what will shake out of their tentative ménage à trois when it's time to go home?

Wicked Surrender by Ambrielle Kirk


Kris is tired of spending her nights playing with hard plastic and silicone. She enters the den in search of a man who will indulge her intimate desires only for one night. When she spots Travis Brenden, a bachelor known for both his lucrative business deals and womanizing ways, she uses his lack of memory of her as an advantage.

Redeeming the Amazon by L. V. Lewis

Karen hasn't made love fully unclothed since her double mastectomy and demise of her marriage. Paul once left his heart in Baltimore with a former model, whose crumbling marriage was the only deterrent to his waning honor. A fantasy weekend at his uncle's hotel may give him a second chance with his contemporary Amazon...if her fear of rejection doesn't become a barrier to their reconnection.

Seduced: Den of Sin Boxed Set 1 on Amazon
Barnes and Noble
All Romance Ebooks

I'll be back much sooner with updates about my other upcoming releases. 

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Mardi Gras, Mardi Gras: GIVEAWAY

You guys remember that book I put out in December. The one called Forbidden Rendezvous. Yeah. That one. It would seem almost negligent not to do some sort of Mardi Gras celebration given the Den of Sin is set in NOLO. I'm giving out 5 copies of Forbidden Rendezvous.

AND, I have friends giving away copies too. Where do you enter?


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway ends March 6 at 12:00 AM EST. Open internationally. Warning: content may not be suitable for minors under the age of 17. eBooks and Digital Prizes will be sent electronically via email. Other prices may be sent U.S. Postal Service or similar service. Winners will be selected on or
before March 10, 2014 by random/computerized draw and be notified by email. No purchase necessary. By providing your information in this form, you are providing your information to participating authors. We do not share or sell information and will use any information only for the purpose of contacting winners.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Dirty Scot's Big Brother

Aye. The man you know as the Dirty Scot has a big brother. His name is Tristan. And his book is out!

***
Blurb
Keri Pearson is currently between jobs, so there's nothing to lose when her cousin promises her a glowing recommendation from a top expert in their field in exchange for a small favor. All she has to do is lie about who she is and pretend to be married to a charming Scot for three hours. Her sexy-as-hell pretend husband makes it too easy to play the part of newlyweds. The last thing she should do is trust him or the genuineness of his lust or adoration, but his touch ignites an unexpected desire.

Tristan Baird turned his back on his past with plenty of regrets, but when his brother blackmails him, Tristan can’t say no. Given his brother saved his neck, an afternoon doing what he does best doesn’t seem like too much to ask. And it’s for a good cause. Doing the job right guarantees his brother and new wife will have the home of their dreams. But his stunning accomplice complicates the job. She is everything he always wanted and couldn’t have. The kind of woman who is too smart to ever trust a former conman.

The three-hour commitment stretches into five sexually charged days as they fight the explosive connection. As each day passes, Keri must remind herself what is true and what is false, but the lines are blurring. Tristan can only hope his past doesn't come back to ruin their future.

Buy Links


If you haven't already picked up Under His Kilt, here's some incentive. On sale! You can find the price reduced at these retailers:

Amazon
B&N
ARe

Happy reading!

Friday, February 07, 2014

New Den of Sin Release: As Sweet

We're gearing up for a new season of sin. Check out the latest from Holley Trent!
***
Rosalinda Gutierrez, the Hotel Beaudelaire’s night auditor, finds a beautiful bouquet of roses on her desk on Valentine’s Day. She quickly learns her secret admirer is someone she’s been quietly fantasizing about for several years. They’ve been two ships passing in the night: she works nights, and he works days.

Trevor Reed tends the five-star hotel’s grounds, and in his free time cultivates flowers nearly as stunning as Rosalinda. The unsophisticated gardener is pleasantly surprised the white-collar girl is receptive to his advances, and when she escalates their friendly date to an erotic fantasy, he figures she’ll want him only for the night.

Rosalinda has other things in mind. She likes men who can make things other than money, and Trevor’s quiet dominance pushes all the right buttons for her. She doesn’t care that he’s just a gardener, but now she has to make him believe it.

ARe
Smashwords
Kobo
***
You can always check out the Den of Sin website for updates.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Guest Blog: Bettye Griffin and Secrets

Welcome Bettye Griffin to the blawg!
***
If you’d like to get the full schedule of where Bettye’s characters are visiting this week, please check her blog.

Secrets & Sins by Bettye Griffin


In this sweeping, 115K-word novel, Bettye Griffin introduces readers to the Cheeks family of Zion, Illinois: Eldest daughter Faye, whose placid, orderly life is about to be disrupted in a way she never could have imagined...middle child and only son Scott, who brings new meaning to the phrase 'midlife crisis'...and youngest daughter Robin, who is divorced from but not exactly rid of her former spouse.


At the center of the story is their mother, Julia Scott Cheeks, who along with her devoted husband Melvin, has tried to keep two scandalous family secrets hidden and has been successful for 55 years...but when Robin mentions the name of the former classmate she has a romantic interest in, Julia fears that the events she has tried so hard and for so long to keep her children from knowing are in danger of being exposed...
-------------------------------
Bettye would love to give a complimentary download of Secrets & Sins to a reader. To be eligible, all you have to do is leave a comment before midnight Central Time today. There must be at least two comments left for an eBook to be given away, if there is only one there will be no prize. Bettye will post the name of the winner tomorrow morning, so please check back, for she will need to hear from the winner.


And now, today’s character sketch:
-------------------------------


Zion, Illinois, January 2010


I’m Diana Major McMahon. I’m 55 years old and am right back where I started: Zion, Illinois…and broke as the day I was born.


I was born here, but moved to St. Louis when I was 17. I was unmarried and pregnant, and every day I had to endure comments from my parents about how it was all my fault that they had to leave their home and friends behind. You see, the reason we moved wasn’t so much just because I was pregnant, but because I knew the baby was going to be biracial. My parents were beside themselves when I broke the news, worrying about what all their so-called friends would say once it became apparent that their daughter had spread her legs for a black guy. My mother even suggested they tell everyone I’d been raped…except one of our neighbors was a policeman and would have known about it. My father arranged for a job transfer, and to rent our house in Zion to a colleague, because it was their intent to return to there as soon as I could stand on my own two feet. They longed for that day. Never mind that they were merrily planning their return well before I even had a high school diploma.


I gave birth to my daughter, Sabrina, and then got my GED. I worked nights at a supermarket and studied when I could. Then I went to a technical school to learn computer programming, which was a hot profession back then. I’d been working for three months when my parents informed me they were going home. They helped me rent and furnish a one-bedroom apartment for Sabrina and me. They told me they’d be back to visit us when they could…in other words, don’t visit us; we’ll visit you. They still didn’t want their friends and neighbors to know they had a mixed-race granddaughter.


I resolved right then and there that I was going to make it. I was 22 with a 5-year-old daughter. I’d managed to have a sex life once I got out on my own, after Sabrina was in bed for the night. She never knew what went on after she was asleep; I didn’t want to expose her to a parade of lovers. Looking back, having sex with the knowledge that you could be discovered at any moment added to the excitement. With no bedroom of my own, my partner of the moment and I would do it in the bathroom or in the coat closet, and occasionally on the sofa, always half-dressed, always ready to spring to our feet if the door to Sabrina’s bedroom opened. I was always drawn to black guys; I’d never experienced sex with a man of my own race, but eventually I got tired of illicit relations with men who were always broke and had nothing else to offer me but a bottle of cheap wine and a hard dick. I knew guys who made nice salaries from work, but they were always married.


Then one day at the supermarket, Sabrina wandered away from me. I was frantic when I saw she was gone, and I rushed to the customer service desk to report it…and there she was, smiling and holding hands with a clean-cut, handsome, brown-haired man with a lock of hair that kept falling over one eye. His name was Larry McMahon. He hadn’t wanted to leave Sabrina until her mommy came to get her.


Larry was a rising financial star, an accounting director at a manufacturer. He asked us to lunch on the spot, and we went. I was thrilled at my good fortune. This good-looking, free-spending man was interested in me. Sabrina’s biracial heritage didn’t bother him at all. I soon learned that I needn’t have worried about him being able to satisfy my strong sex drive. Well-off, handsome, and a great lover…I was in heaven.


When he was promoted to corporate treasurer, he asked me to marry him. I hesitated, thinking of how wonderful my life could be: manicures, pedicures, facials, shopping, the gym, lunches with girlfriends. I didn’t want to tie myself down with diaper duty unless it was a deal-breaker. I told him that I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to have any more children due to some unspecified female problem, and that I didn’t think I was made to be an adoptive mother. He said not to worry, that he loved Sabrina like she was his own.


Sabrina asked me about her daddy as soon as she made friends who had two parents. I told her that he really hadn’t wanted us around, so it was just the two of us. I was so happy when Larry asked her if he could be her daddy. Heaven knew I couldn’t tell either Sabrina or Larry the real story…


Anyway, Larry and I got married, and he kept climbing the corporate ladder. Eventually he became the CFO of a beverage corporation. We lived the good life…a mansion in a pricey suburb…private school for Sabrina…wonderful vacations…furs…jewelry. I had a housekeeper and always drove a sleek late model car. How I gloated when my parents came for one of their rare visits.


The party continued for thirty years. Larry suffered some financial setbacks from investments that went south. He told me we needed to tighten our belts, and I tried, I really did. I honestly didn’t think it was that bad. He kept the magnitude of our financial situation hidden from me. It wasn’t until after he died that I found out just how bad things were, that the years of high living were over and that I’d been left with nothing.


So here I am, back in Zion. I hate to say it, but the best thing my mother did for me was pass away when she did. My father had died a few years earlier, and her passing meant Sabrina, her kids, and I would have a place to live. My brother, Mark, and I had never been close. He’s a college professor at the University of Wisconsin in Madison and didn’t want the house, which had been left to us jointly. The house is paid for, but Mark said if I wanted to live in it, I’d be responsible for taxes and upkeep.


I hadn’t worked in years, and jobs writing code aren’t nearly as plentiful as they used to be anyway. Sabrina was a trained LPN, and not only hadn’t she worked in years, she had never really warmed to the profession. Besides, not having an RN degree limited her earnings. Since both of us knew how to type, we got administrative positions at the largest employer in the area, Abbott Labs.


So I’ve gone from living the high life to barely eking out a living. I can’t remember the last time I bought something new for myself. There’s a possible way I can get my hands on some money, though. Now that I’m back in Zion, I’m hoping I can get the answer to the question I’ve been wondering about for 38 years…


Which one of the guys that I slept with in high school got me pregnant?
----------------------------------

Read more about Diana in Secrets & Sins, out now! Kindle owners can get it at Amazon or at Bettye’s eStore. Readers needing EPUB or PDF formats can get theirs from Bettye’s eStore, where eBooks always cost less, usually $1. You can always whet your appetite by getting the FREE download of the prequel, Sinner Man, which is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and at Bettye’s eStore.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Sequel Bait, ARCs and Upcoming Releases

Were you aware the Dirty Scot had a brother? Well, he does and his story is coming soon.
***

Keri Pearson is currently between jobs, so there's nothing to lose when her cousin promises her a glowing recommendation from a top expert in their field in exchange for a small favor. All she has to do is lie about who she is and pretend to be married to a charming Scot for three hours. Her sexy-as-hell pretend husband makes it too easy to play the part of newlyweds. The last thing she should do is trust him or the genuineness of his lust or adoration, but his touch ignites an unexpected desire.

Tristan Baird turned his back on his past with plenty of regrets, but when his brother blackmails him, Tristan can’t say no. Given his brother saved his neck, an afternoon doing what he does best doesn’t seem like too much to ask. And it’s for a good cause. Doing the job right guarantees his brother and new wife will have the home of their dreams. But his stunning accomplice complicates the job. She is everything he always wanted and couldn’t have. The kind of woman who is too smart to ever trust a former conman.

The three-hour commitment stretches into five sexually charged days as they fight the explosive connection. As each day passes, Keri must remind herself what is true and what is false, but the lines are blurring. Tristan can only hope his past doesn't come back to ruin their future.
***
If you're interested in receiving an ARC for this book, you can fill out a form here. I'm hoping to have this baby out on Feb. 20th. I shall keep you updated.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Homespun Cover Making: Part 4

Warning: By no means am I a professional graphic artist or a teacher.

This post is going to have a lot of print screen and I can tell you now that I probably didn't include enough. lol So strap in and get ready.

Personally, I don't like the gradient alone. So let me try some other avenues. We're about to get REALLY fancy. I'm heading to the layer list. I'm right clicking the couple. A menu pops up and I'm choosing Edit Layer Attributes. (Don't forget to click ok.) I'm picking the Fuzzy Select Tool and I'm going to get rid of that gray background. I'm clicking that gray and it's going to select a lot. Some things I don't want to get rid of. But that's okay because I haven't had coffee yet. I'm picking the Eraser and erasing everything within that Selection that I don't want to keep. I'm getting old so I'm changing the View too.



Now I'm picking that Erase tool and shall get started.



Yeah...

So now I have the couple, sans background. Let's make things interesting. I've SAVED AS. If you don't have a White Background layer, add one behind the couple. I've reordered the layers and put my title and name below the White Background Layer. As you can see this sucker is bare and needs work. This is when I just have to say I play around until I hit on something that works.

Let's go back to those gradients. 3 blendings later at 100 percent opacity in that background...

Still totally missing the mark. Let's put some in the front of the couple. I do this by picking the couple, right click, New Layer. I don't want the Opacity so strong. So let's go with 30 percent.

Not enough. Let's just duplicate the layer.

Still so bare. This is when I go to my huge file of stock photos. If you don't have one, get one. Lol I have textures, cityscapes, landscapes, etc. When things feel like this I use my rule of three: Object, background, font. In this case the object is the couple. I've cut out the background so I should replace it. If I pick the right background, all I need is to put my font back in and voila, the cover looks full and complete. I'm sure there's a technical name for this, but I don't know it because I'm not a professional graphic artist.

I have a background. I'm picking this because there's some red in it. I'm hoping they compliment each other. I don't know because I'm just playing at the moment. I'm cropping a bit of it by using the square selection tool from the toolbox. I'll copy and paste it as a layer into the cover. (Most of this stuff is pretty simple. It's exactly what you'd do if you were sticking a picture file in Word.)



Now. Don't scream. Reorder the layer so it's beneath the couple. (Click on it and drag it down.) Scale so it fits fully behind the couple.

Somehow, it works. But I don't want this to look like some Walmart picture where you can see the folks are sitting on something. Let's play with the couple a bit. Right click the couple. Edit Layer Attributes. Ok when that dialogue box pops up. 


Er. Too far down. Scaling and moving them a bit to the side.

 Ha. We're getting close.

I'm going to try to make the cover look more cogent. This is where things get tricky. I'm putting the font back where it needs to be by dragging it from the bottom to the top. I'm right clicking the couple. The menu is going to pop up. I'm going to Duplicate Layer and drag it down below the White Background Layer. I don't want to lose the original. If I mess up and the undo option is out of the picture for some reason, I have the original couple. 

Now at the top of the Layer-Gradient list will be an Opacity bar. (It's blue) I'm going to play with this. First, I'm going back to the original couple layer, right click, Edit Layer Attributes. I'm going with 92 percent.



I'm going to do something similar to the cityscape background. (Right click. Edit Attritubes. Ok.) This time I'm going with 80 percent.

Not bad, but did I mention I'm anal retentive?

Let's go back to the couple. Right click. On that menu list there's an Apply Layer Mask Option. When that dialogue button pops up, choose White (full opacity). Add it. When you look at your layers list, there should be a small box next to the couple.

Nothing has happened to the actual couple. That's a good thing, because if it had, then you should scream and undo. Choose the blending/gradient tool. Make sure the two colors are black and white. Now look at the Tool Options dialogue box and make sure the FB to BG option is picked. Blend.

The bottom half of your couple should have disappeared a little.


I sit back, look at the cover and realize I'm just doing a tutorial.

Yup. I'm done. This should be enough info to make some covers. Best of luck.

Any questions, ask them in the comments.



There was an error in this gadget